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Who deleted files from missing jet pilot's flight simulator?

March 19, 2014 18:26 IST

Who deleted files from missing jet pilot's flight simulator?

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Malaysian authorities on Wednesday said some files were found deleted from the flight simulator found at the house of the pilot aboard the missing jetliner and experts are trying to retrieve the data that could be crucial for solving the aviation mystery.

As the search for the plane entered the 12th day with no significant progress so far, Defence and Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters that some data from simulator was deleted on February 3 and investigators are trying to recover the missing files.

He also said that the 53-year-old pilot, Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and all passengers remained innocent until proven guilty of any wrongdoing.

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Image: A visitor is briefed on a flight simulator at the Bahrain International Airshow held at the Sakhir Air Base, south of Manama
Photographs: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters

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Malaysian authorities had earlier dismantled the simulator and reassembled it to analyse its data, hoping to find something that could give insight into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on March 8 with 239 people, including five Indians, aboard.

According to some reports, investigators found the runways with over 1,000 metres length of five airports, including three in India and Sri Lanka, one at the Male in Maldives and an airport owned by the US (Diego Garcia), loaded into the home-made flight simulator of Captain Zaharie.

Captain Zaharie and first officer of the missing plane, both Malaysian, have come under scrutiny in the search for clues to trace the Beijing-bound Boeing 777-200.

The house of Zaharie was searched after Prime Minister Najib Razak said the aircraft veered off course due to apparent deliberate action taken "by somebody on plane".

Hishammuddin said, "We have received passenger background checks from all countries apart from Ukraine and Russia, both of which had nationals on board. So far, no information of significance on any passengers has been found."

He dismissed reports that the plane had been seen over the Maldives. "This is not true," he said adding he spoke to Maldivian officials on the matter.

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Image: Malaysia's acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein shows two maps with corridors of the last known possible location of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane as he addresses reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport
Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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Hishammuddin said that Malaysia has received some new radar data, but would not reveal where it came from.

He said Australia had significantly refined its search area in Southern Indian Ocean to find the missing jetliner, though nothing has been found yet.

Thailand on Tuesday said its radar confirmed that a plane took a westerly turn on March 8. Hishammudin said the source of the data was sensitive and that it was up to the host country to release it.

Some reports said Malaysian officials also reviewed cockpit conversations between the pilots on board the missing plane and air traffic controllers and heard nothing suspicious.

"We have satellite information to show that the plane flew till 0811 am so we have to find the plane and its black box to know what happened," Civil Aviation chief Azharuddin Rahman said.

He said pilot did not divert the plane before signing off.

Hishamuddin said Malaysia was sending a high-level team to Beijing to explain what the government was doing. The high-level team will have members from the prime ministers office, Malaysian airlines senior pilot and from Air Force.

"I understand the families' emotions" he said.

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Image: A man watches a large screen showing different flights at the departure hall of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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When Hishamuddin was briefing the press, some relatives who tried to barge into the press conference room were dragged out by the security officials there.

Most search officials think the plane is likely to be in the southern corridor.

Hishamuddin said the massive search involved diplomatic, logistic and technical challenges.

"Our immediate focus is the search and rescue operation. We are pursuing every means possible to narrow the two search corridors," he said.

"On the diplomatic front, all 26 countries involved in the search and rescue operation have verbally agreed to assist the operations, and Malaysia has written to all countries formally requesting co-operation, he said.

Majority of the passengers on board the flight are from China. US sources have said the search could take weeks and not days.

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Image: Military personnel work within the cockpit of a helicopter belonging to the Vietnamese airforce during a search and rescue mission off Vietnam's Tho Chu island
Photographs: Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

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